Department of Information Technology; Computer Science

TUCS Dissertations No 139

2011-10-07

Tiivistelmä:

This thesis studies the use of heuristic algorithms in a number of combinatorial problems that occur in various resource constrained environments. Such problems occur, for example, in manufacturing, where a restricted number of resources (tools, machines, feeder slots) are needed to perform some operations. Many of these problems turn out to be computationally intractable, and heuristic algorithms are used to provide efficient, yet sub-optimal solutions. The main goal of the present study is to build upon existing methods to create new heuristics that provide improved solutions for some of these problems. All of these problems occur in practice, and one of the motivations of our study was the request for improvements from industrial sources. We approach three different resource constrained problems. The first is the tool switching and loading problem, and occurs especially in the assembly of printed circuit boards. This problem has to be solved when an efficient, yet small primary storage is used to access resources (tools) from a less efficient (but unlimited) secondary storage area. We study various forms of the problem and provide improved heuristics for its solution. Second, the nozzle assignment problem is concerned with selecting a suitable set of vacuum nozzles for the arms of a robotic assembly machine. It turns out that this is a specialized formulation of the MINMAX resource allocation formulation of the apportionment problem and it can be solved efficiently and optimally. We construct an exact algorithm specialized for the nozzle selection and provide a proof of its optimality. Third, the problem of feeder assignment and component tape construction occurs when electronic components are inserted and certain component types cause tape movement delays that can significantly impact the efficiency of printed circuit board assembly. Here, careful selection of component slots in the feeder improves the tape movement speed. We provide a formal proof that this problem is of the same complexity as the turnpike problem (a well studied geometric optimization problem), and provide a heuristic algorithm for this problem.